Poor David Segal.
Last week, Segal was the spokesman for a member of the NYC Council.
Now he’s just another head in John Podhoretz’s trophy case.
Further, with Jeff Gottlieb’s exit (through the fire door) from the race for Congress in CD #6, the supply of New York politicians sympathetic to the idea that being a convicted arsonist is a positive credential for a public position has been severely depleted.
Though I suppose one could always send a resume to the Barrons.
At the tender age of 26, Mr. Segal’s firing by Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez marks the second Segal’s exploits have made the New York Times.
Here’s the first:
The police arrested a 19-year-old Manhattan College junior who they said threw a burning rag into an Army recruiting station that was closed for the night in the Parkchester section of the Bronx, and jammed the door locks with powerful glue. He was caught carrying a handwritten note declaring that a “wave of violence” would occur throughout the Northeast […] aimed at the “military industrial complex” in response to American military actions, the police said.
He was wearing rubber gloves, according to the complaint filed in the case, and carrying a backpack with glue and maps locating the recruiting station. He was charged with destroying government property and released on Feb. 1 after posting $15,000 in cash bail.
Yes, yes, I know that Segal's throwing a burning rag into an Army Recruitment Center was, for him, an act of conscience.
But it was also an act of terrorism.
Most acts of terrorism are an act of conscience for someone.
Someone who is deranged.
So, I ask all those who demand that Segal not be judged harshly for such an act how they would react to news that a politically marginal Republican State Senator had knowingly employed a staffer who had done time for throwing a burning rag into a Planned Parenthood Clinic.
That Segal was 19 at the time seems to me of little note.
It is not unreasonable to expect a 19 year old to have attained a fully developed view about the morality of committing acts which might inflict grievous harms onto innocent bystanders.
This was not, after all, a punch thrown in anger, but a premeditated act which held a great potential for inflicting serious harm.
Closed for the night or not, Mr. Segal put at risk those who may have been in the building after hours or nearby: a janitor, a watchman, an employee who came back because they forgot their house keys, a homeless person who had broken in looking for shelter, or someone in a another building connected or nearby.
And if not them, a firefighter.
If you want to inflict civil disobedience upon an Army Recruitment Center, I'm not going to approve in any event, but why not sit down and block the entrance way, or glue the locks without throwing the rag, or a pour pig blood or manure into the filing cabinets?
I would gladly consider forgiving such acts of idealistic youthful exuberance.
I might even smile.
Burning rags, not so much.
It seems to me that Segal’s self righteous decision to put others at risk based upon his personal decision that he was serving a higher moral good was a seriously disordered act of narcissism, meriting incarceration in a mental institution rather than a jail.
Yes, 19 year olds do stupid things, and some acquire more maturity later.
“I had and continue to have a firm belief that the war in Iraq is unjust. I have a strong set of values based on social justice...I have to pay my debt to society, and I believe I have found a more productive way to advocate for the needs of the working class...I apologize to anyone I might have disappointed and to those who might not agree with my past.”
I might have chosen different words, something like “what I did was wrong.”
It seems to me Segal’s only regret is that he chose unproductive (rather than morally reprehensible) tactics.
Segal’s “apology,” if one call even call it that, is directed to those he either “disappointed” or to those who disagreed with his actions.
It is quite clear that Mr. Segal is not disappointed in himself, and that he does not currently disagree with his past actions.
It is at least somewhat credible that Ydanis Rodriguez did not know of the exact nature of Segal’s record; referring to Segal’s employment application, Rodriguez said:
“He had a prior arrest for an anti-war protest — that’s all it said.”
Which I suppose is even technically true.
Further, in my estimation, Christine Quinn was right not to interfere in the internal hiring decisions of individual Councilmembers--would that she were consistent in such matters.
I strongly defend the right of an elected official to knowingly keep an unrepentant arsonist and terrorist on their staff.
It is up to the constituents of that elected official voters to decide if they find such a decision abhorrent
Moreover, there are probably a few constituencies in NYC where such a decision might prove a political asset.
But, let me be clear, under Gordon v Giffith, elected officials are within their rights to fire staffers for publicly expressing their political views, and Mr. Segal has clearly expressed the political view that arson and terror are nothing to apologize for.
If an elected official knowingly chooses to hire or retain in service someone who is an unrepentant defender of the morality of arson and terror, I am going to have to judge them harshly.